Since I recentl put together a mammoth collection of 60s pop, I'll pick three of the songs that I find myself hitting repeat on with the MP3 player. Enjoy.
1. Out in the Street by The Shangri-Las. The great thing about girl groups: they were constantly carrying on about what pussies their hard-assed, "uptown" boyfriends were really like underneath the leather jackets. "Be My Baby" has to be the best girl-group song. For my money, "Out in the Street" has to be #2. That ghostly vocal intro, those first few beautiful lines, the shuffling beat -- it underlines the urban toughness that's the real draw of girl groups.
2. It's You That I Need by The Temptations. Motown takes too much crap these days for being too soft and poppy, as compared to grittier soul like Stax/Volt. But when I hear a song like this by The Temptations, forget it. Holland/Dozier/Holland had such a propulsive build from verse to chorus in some of their hits, like a jet taking off. (I believe this song was written by one of the Holland brothers and Barrence Whitfield.) For years, I had a different version of the song on which the vocals had an echo effect. For some odd reason, the version that came out a few years back on a Temptations 2-disc hits compilation didn't, and I love the more raw sound of the vocals on this take.
3. Nova Slum Goddess by The Fugs. Been on a huge Fugs/Holy Modal Rounders kick as of late. New York City hippies, into acid and banjos. A lot of their stuff goes right by me, just way too nutty, it sounds like these guys were perpetually stoned from about 1965 onwards. But with The Fugs, every now and then, they'd get into it and really nail something down -- as with this song about a beautiful hippie chick from the Lower East Side. This version is from a live show the band did at the Bottom Line in the 1980s, but the sound and vibe of the track feel vastly superior to me than on the original 60s studio take. Fun stuff that rocked. If the left was still like this, I'd still be on the left.
A disclaimer: if the artist, record company or any other entity associated with a song has a legal issue with any MP3 appearing on this site, I will remove the link immediately. Not looking to pirate music here – just looking to spread the word.